BIG 5 (South Africa)

Volunteers have the opportunity to experience the "Big 5" in their free environment (no cages and no fences) on foot and on game drives. Many other interesting species may also be encountered. As they are all free roaming animals, no guarantees can be given that they will actually be encountered with certainty. The reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National / Limpopo Transfrontier Park and animals, such as the "Big 5", can therefore move freely over the entire area. Camp is situated on the banks of the mighty Olifants River, major water source of the central Lowveld-area and as such, a 'hotspot' for game, small and large…including the "Big 5"!

The focus of this project is on all aspects of nature conservation in order to maintain the ecosystem and biodiversity. This project therefore offers a great opportunity to physically participate in conservation projects and to gain first-hand experience in the implementation thereof within a South African nature reserve.

Goal of the project

The mission is to allow people of all ages to experience the magic of nature and all its intricate facets, first hand. The central focus is the preservation and conservation of nature for the benefit of current, as well as future generations. To conserve the "Big 5" and their habitat means to conserve many more facets and aspects of the African Ecosystem.

Volunteer involvement is essential in preserving this ecosystem, and volunteers must be prepared to be actively involved in the day to day activities at this project, to contribute and conserve this wonderful eco-system.

Volunteer responsibilities

This project needs volunteers to assist in general reserve management and maintenance tasks.

Volunteers are offered a combination of learning experiences and fun activities. Although daily activities may vary, volunteers can expect to take part in the following camp and bush work activities.

Camp work might include camp development and improvement, small building projects, cleaning of store rooms, general maintenance of equipment, and fence patrolling.

Bush work might include game monitoring, track identification and tracking, road and water reticulation maintenance, Vegetation Condition Assessments (VCA's), when necessary, removal of litter and unwanted plants along the river and elsewhere, maintaining the bush camp, bush clearing and erosion control.

Volunteers will gain a general knowledge of all aspects of nature i.e. animals, trees, geology, soils, climate and all other facets of the African bush, backed up by physical experience with these facets.

Fees and Dates:

  • Weeks
  • 1 Week
  • 2 Week
  • 3 Week
  • 4 Week
  • 5 Week
  • 6 Week
  • 7 Week
  • 8 Week
  • Extra Per Week
  • Program Fee US$
  • N/A
  • $970
  • $1430
  • $1850
  • $2250
  • $2650
  • $3050
  • $3450
  • $450

The 'Big 5' Project starts Tuesday of every week.

room / food

Volunteers will reside in a camp, overlooking the Olifants River. It is a large, fully equipped self-catering house with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, and dining room / lounge, washing room, bathroom with bath and shower, and three toilets. The house has electricity and hot water.

One bedroom can accommodate 4 volunteers, the other bedroom 3 volunteers, and each room has cupboards, mirrors and electrical plugs. Volunteers may also be accommodated in the youth hostel at the project. The youth hostel is a large 6 room dormitory with deck beds in each room, and also has a kitchen, washing room, bath, showers and toilets. As of yet there are only mattresses and sheets on the beds. Volunteers will have to provide their own bedding. No linen is provided by the project.

3 meals a day are included in the program fees. Breakfast is on a self-help basis, while lunch and dinner are cooked and prepared by a qualified chef. Examples of Meals are:

Breakfast – toast, cereals, tea, coffee.

Lunch - spaghetti with pasta sauce, pastas, vegetables, salads.

Dinner - roast chicken, pastas, meat, barbeques, vegetables, salads.

Free time/what volunteer can do in free time

Besides bush and camp activities there will of course also be opportunity for fun activities such as game drives, bush walks, bush camps / sleep-outs under the stars, target shooting and African cuisine cooking.

Other activities could include horse riding, micro-light aircraft flights, the Kruger National Park, and the Blyde River Canyon.

All additional activities are subject to the availability of vehicles and guides to take volunteers to Hoedspruit, where further arrangements need to be made (such as the rental of vehicles) and please note that these are not included in the basic tariff. The costs for doing these optional activities will be on volunteers' own account. Also, please note that there may also be additional costs towards petrol in getting to / from these optional activities, and the cost will depend on how far you need to travel to get to this optional activity.

Major FAQ

  • Where do I need to fly?
  • How can I get to the project?
  • What vaccinations do I need?
  • How can I communicate with family?
  • How safe is the project?
  • Will there be someone to guide/supervise us?
  • Will there be other volunteers?
  • Any other important information to consider?